Fireflies

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I watched through the window as I sat eating lunch with the boy. An older couple, maybe in their early 50’s, stood embracing each other like two vines entwined, both shiny and smiling, both happy and full of emotion. I swear an invisible hand reached through that window and brushed the beat in my chest. For a moment, they stopped long enough to look at each other lovingly and kiss, then they embraced again. How lucky am I to observe such tenderness, such mutual adoration, and how much of a sap am I that my eyes softened into blurry bits before I tore them away (feeling like the guilty voyeur that I was). I clasped that happy moment between both hands like capturing a firefly, even if it belonged to someone else. The light remains with me still.

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Mesmerizing, happiness is that fleeting flicker of light that travels across the bridge between our eyes.  A tireless hunt we engage in as we look towards our weekends, our trips, the things we own or don’t own, our accomplishments, our time alone, our time with friends. The fade eventually emerges though, waiting in the silken shadows beneath every coin.

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I don’t tell my children anymore that all I want is for them is to just be happy, because I am not sure yet if they know how true happiness is found. It’s not by getting what we want, this I know. As lovely and delightful it is to get what we want, this kind of joy is never the kind that lasts. Evident in the epilogue of when we get “stuff” or have finished a vacation or a long weekend, in the gray silence and dark blue void of sadness, like we’ve been cut off abruptly from our drug. This kind of joy is only the filling of an insatiable mug, a thirst that’s never quenched.

True joy and happiness has empty pockets, is without gift tags, labels, trophies or titles. We find it by scaling the deep ravines that are sure to collapse beneath our feet. We find it by knowing when to sway gently with the wind and the water that will slap us across the face, and when to resist the current that rages to knock us down. Somehow, the longer we endure, the more we learn to live. The more fears we face, the more truths we comprehend, the more obstacles we choose to leap, the easier happiness tends to make itself known. When this happens, the light we search comes alive in every direction, fireflies everywhere! Couples across the room in an embrace, a man in the poetry aisle wanting to share his favorite poet, an old green chevy hidden behind a tree, a log trapped in the gorgeous spider web of ice, children with sloppy ice cream dripping off their noses…

Fireflies, everywhere…do you see them?

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much love to you on this wintery day

xoxo

passage

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I went on a hike with the kids yesterday looking for birds to watch, photograph or draw. It felt like spring here, gorgeous blue skies and people out everywhere. I picked the wrong trail to hike on though and instead of looking up for birds, we spent most of our time looking down, trying not to slip on ice, mud and slush. Treasures do still exist no matter where you look, and among the wet leaves and ash gray branches we found delicately dessicated seed pods, rusted, mint-green pipes, and abandoned birdnests clinging valiantly to bare-boned bushes. Near the end, three black-capped chickadees cheerfully crossed our path on their way to taking a slushy, mud bath. They were the only three birds we spotted on that hike.

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I find so many answers by stumbling on the evidence that nature leaves behind. The stunning intrigue of hollow pods and empty nests, nothing new to nature but profound to those of us that desperately cling to what once was or what will soon be lost. Would it be any easier to say goodbye if we knew what’s on the other side was better, even transcendent? Nature tirelessly cycles season to season, from birth to death, or is it death to birth, reminding us over and over again to not be afraid, to employ the remarkable senses we’ve been given, to inhale all of it and mark our moments, knowing that we must eventually exhale and let it go before starting all over again. How often do I catch myself holding my breath, greedily trying to store what I am or what I think I know for safe keeping, too naive–or afraid to release to a higher purpose I am not suppose to understand, not yet.

I think about these things as I walk in the woods on muddy trails and dead leaves, when I think of friends fighting cancer for their beautiful and remarkable lives, when I think of an uncle who has fought the odds for years, knowing there are time bombs ticking in his head. Despite all the knowledge we’ve attained, what lies beneath everything is an inherent, instinctive will to survive. Our most essential and primary purpose. We fight for what we have, we fight for the ones we love, we fight for our lives no matter what is on the other side. We fight until we can’t anymore, until Nature rests its heavy hand on our shoulder and tells us it’s time to let go. Until then, everything thing we walk through is a passage gilded in hope, faith and courage, a bridge built by the lives we’ve spent a lifetime to create. In hollow pods and empty nests, in the crisp, cruel winters that try to knock us down, the will to carry on remains.

thinking of the umber dove, my uncle, and all those who fight,

much love to you all

xoxo

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A hundred wild blue yonders

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The Little Bee is smitten with colors–or more so, the names of them. She began devouring crayon names like inchworm, wild blue yonder, and purple mountain’s majesty. She will point out any color in a room, on a house, a car, on a sign, anywhere, and tell you it’s corresponding crayon name. We were corrected the other day that the car we saw was indeed goldenrod, not yellow. She has also expanded her repertoire to the names of the eye shadows I use, and will eagerly want to know if I’m wearing truffle, golden retriever, or black diamond. For her birthday she received, collectively, 22 nail polishes from her grandparents. She read through them all delighting in poodleskirt pink, make mine mango, crystal waters, cloud 9 and sea escape. Her enthusiasm alone has me musing on every color I see. I hesitate telling her about the paint swatch aisle at Home Depot, we could be there for hours and who knows, end up painting the entire house.

What I really wonder though is if she realizes that she is a walking magnet to the spectacular that is hidden in the everyday. She sees it, feels it and is drawn to it, and when I have the lucky chance to glimpse the world through her eyes, even for just a flash, I am there too, amidst all the magic and beauty. The way she marvels in the brightness of the world around her, the way otherwise ordinary words come to life and dance before her, all of this will be the magic carpet that elevates her to her calling one day. There is a caveat though for having this kind of vision and sensitivity. For as much poetry she can find, all the fear and darkness that also fills this world, seeps in just as readily, creating an anxious child, fearful and sometimes mistrusting. I wonder if she knows that all the anxiety and agony she is experiencing now, with math, with girl relationships, with just being a 9 year old, will get better some day. I pray earnestly that I am capable enough to help her climb through the muck and confusion that adolescence and early adulthood is sure to bring. I will try my best, I promise a hundred wild blue yonders that I will.

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I saw a White-Breasted Nuthatch on the naked trees in my backyard the other day. Beautiful little things with long beaks, white heads with a black strip running down the middle. Boy do I want need a great pair of binoculars. For the last several months though, I have spotted Red-Tailed Hawks everywhere. I saw one land in a field with it’s talons up, I’m sure it caught something. I saw one on a farm’s fencepost on the drive to the kids’ school, several at different times flying overhead, another land in a treetop off a highway while we sped by. I saw one recently while in Florida, perched high on a utility post, and last month a smaller one was atop a red rock formation at the Garden of the Gods. I know the Red-Tailed Hawk is a common bird, especially in Colorado, but what makes a typical experience atypical is the awareness that comes rushing in when we see the signs, like there is a particular and extraordinary message just waiting for us if we take a keener look, if we just cock our heads and tune in a little closer to what the universe is trying to say. Oh yes, I do believe in mountain meadow, in dreamscape blue, in midnight black ravens and yellow breasted warblers. I believe in the seers of this plane, the ones that live the magic and must walk through darkness to keep it. I believe in the atypical, the signs and the messages. I must, for what would we be, what would this world be without? No music, no art, no poets, no treehouses or Frank Lloyd Wright. What a boring, common world would that be?

with love from a sky blue Monday…

when everything old is new again

a conversation

And so it begins, a new year, a new blog, and a new word to highlight and inspire the next 12 months. It’s awesome what a single word can muster, little symbols in succession holding energy for hope, inspiration and movitation. A thoughtfully chosen word can be a beacon for me, a homing signal to follow and realign with when the days get lost, harried, unexpected, or mundane, which inevitably they always do.

First though, I have to tell you a little story about last year’s word “Voice”. Year three was quite the hump year for me in terms of writing and blogging. When I chose the word “Voice”, I was searching for something, anything to point me in a new direction, give me just a sliver, an inkling of an idea of what I am suppose to do with this “one wild and precious life”.  A new career, a new focus, a new identity? But instead of a gentle, guiding beacon, that word gave me a solid, white, daunting and immoveable, brick wall.

Was I asking too much, wanting too much? Who knows, but with that wall came anxiety, boarding up spaces in my mind so there was no room to expand, dream or create. For months, writing became labored and difficult. I was distracted and distant. I would sneer at my desktop as I walked by, professing that I would not sit there and stare at the screen that day. An internal civil war ensued where one side told me to “quit the blog- there is nothing to give, no voice, no purpose!”, and the other said “no don’t let it go, not yet, just wait.” Whatever the problem was, it felt bigger than writer’s block, bigger than a temporary setback.

What kind of irony was this anyway?? I ask for Voice and found absolute nothingness, silence. I was stonewalled by my own brain. I had no other option since Voice decided to vacate, so, I surrendered. I just stopped, stopped asking the questions, stopped pressuring myself for answers. I allowed the silence to dampen and seep into the crevices all around that wall. I just enjoyed my days. I spent much less time online (sorry bloggy friends!), reduced blogging other than an occasional post here and there, and did very little crafting of any sort, even fewer photos and polaroids… I focused on my kids and their school activities by volunteering more, spent more time with friends, spent more time reading (yay!), and let my head center on mindless, household, busy work. And in that quiet, away from all that rush and eagerness to define Voice, when movement slowed and silence reigned, groundedness and understanding did gracefully emerge.

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Sometimes we ask for things we already have. Peace, happiness, abundance, confidence, love, patience, friendship, voice…We just don’t know it because somewhere we made up our minds that what we have, what we can do, is just not enough. In Blogland, when we have that opportunity to peek into other people’s lives, we can’t help but compare sometimes. And even if we are vigilant of our own Egos, it is cunning enough to slink into the rear alleys of our minds. Suddenly we want more. I wanted more. I wanted to be that artist, that photographer, that writer. I searched for Voice, everywhere but here. And so it took a wall, and it took silence, and it took leaving for awhile to realize that Voice was not something to be hunted, or chased, or wished for. Voice is something we all already have, something to be cultivated only by believing in ourselves.

Voice is here, always, in the way we move or speak, in the way we care or show love, in the way we relax, the way we laugh, the way we retreat into solitude or release sadness. For me, it’s also in the dreams I’ve had all my life. It’s in the way I create, or shoot photographs, and most importantly, it’s in the way I write and share my stories, my life. The moment I sought Voice elsewhere, I found a silent wall in its stead, until I remembered again my own value, my own core. And by filtering out any dreams born out of fear, impulsiveness and insecurity, I did find Voice again. Just in the knick of time too, just in time to say goodbye to 2013, just in time to find a new blogging platform and seek a new word for this year.

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I learned a hard lesson last year, one that almost cost me something that I love to do. I began blogging because writing was the only way I knew how to unbottle and sort out all the details of my own stumblings, evolution and gain. And because I thought someone, somewhere might identify with what I was trying to say, how I was trying to live, and want to take what I had to give. It is the essence of why I am here– vulnerability, honesty, learning and evolution, soul-searching, depth, and the love of words, storytelling, sharing and connecting–the marrow and soul of why I love to write. And so quite naturally, my word for 2014

Essence.

noun 1the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, esp. something abstract, that determines its character.

I want to stay connected with the essence and soul of my writing. I want to pause on the truest nature of why I do anything and make sure intentions are aligned. What essentially, does something mean to me and is it worth the energy? I want to take heed of and hear my most sincere voice, bearer of my deepest dreams, then share earnestly my experiences with words, actions, and heart. 2014 is going to be an incredible year, not because something remarkable and astounding is going to happen, but because we make our lives remarkable and astounding just by being our truest, most essential selves.

Happy New Year friends and thank you always for reading.

xoxox

ps. It’s my girl’s birthday today, 9 years old. Happy Birthday darling Little Bee..